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99. The Paleo Diet for Toys

Jan 21, 2022 • 7 min read
How did children play in the palaeolithic?

Sometimes I think the 100 Toys approach to play is a bit like the Paleo Diet. I find myself wondering how children would have played before there were any toys. The impulse to explore would still have been there. Toddlers would have enjoyed schema play. Babies would still have dropped their food on the floor. Deliberately. To annoy their fathers.

Can we offer our children paleo play and expect them to develop all the skills they need for modern life? Climbing and jumping, piling up stones, mark-making with sticks were popular in 50,000 BC. But are they as relevant today?

Of course, modern children need skills that our prehistoric ancestors couldn't have imagined. Reading, writing and using a computer were not much in demand on the African savannah. But the building blocks of these skills certainly were. Fine motor control, visual discrimination and attentive listening formed part of everyday life.

Next time your child complains of boredom, don't reach for the toy box. Encourage them to go outside and make their own fun. Boredom breeds creativity and creativity breeds confidence.

Ask yourself the question: what would a caveman do?


I'm Alexis, father of four and founder of One Hundred Toys. I taught in London primary schools for thirteen years, specialising in the early years. Now I write about all things play here on the blog. Read more

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